Entry for Category 2: Prompt word HOLLY

The Holly and The Ivy

by The Bard of New Mexico


The Medieval History professor, Deering, sank deeper into his green leather chair near the fire in the department's common room. Outside, snow fell lightly onto the ivy covered walls and inside, wax holly glowed under the overhead fluorescent lights. Fuzzy details of old tales tugged at his memory.

One by one, students drifted in to have some refreshments at the department's gathering and seemingly on cue, a student asked, “Professor, what is the significance of holly in celebrating Christmas?”

Deering smiled again. “These days, Christianity claims the symbolism. The holly is supposed to remind us of the crown of thorns on Christ's head and its berries are supposed to represent Christ's blood.” He paused. “But there's a whole pagan tradition, too, that dates to Greek mythology. Professor Shakapopoulous could probably tell you how Dionysus is connected with holly and ivy.”

The student got up to leave, but Professor Deering held up a hand to stop him. “Several variations on the holly and the ivy story exist in pagan lore, but there are still traces of a drama about the rivalry between the Holly King and the Ivy Queen.” He pointed to the gently frosted ivy outside. “Anyway, Ivy Queen was depicted as sad, cold, and weepy and had black berries. Holly King was depicted as being warm, lively, and festive.”

“If I had my choice, jolly Holly King would win the battle.”

“Wise choice, son. Wise choice, indeed.”



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